The White Screen of Irritation, not to be confused with the ‘Blue Screen of Death’ (an occurrence seen less and less often as computers become more stable and crash less often). The White Screen of Irritation is the result of visiting a blocked website. Blocked, of course, by the Chinese authorities who deem certain sites unsafe for the comrades they seek to protect.
According to the Wiki page on the subject, China is rumored to have an Internet Police force of more than 50,000. The Office for the Neutralization of Critical Online Opinion (yes, I made that one up) not only blocks specific sites, (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) they also monitor the activity of various blogs and online forums. A critical comment is said to have a life of only a few minutes.
I found it ironic that although Wikipedia is not outright blocked, the page on China Censorship is drastically cut down. According to the ‘contents’ box there should be some 10 major points in the document. My browser only loaded 2.
This is, of course, when it works. An even more common screen than the “Requested URL could not be retrieved” notice is the “Your connection has been reset” frame. (Ironic that this screen pops up a lot when I’m looking for online commentary on censorship in China.) I often wonder if these are the signs that a site has been blocked, but not so openly.
The irony of this is that it seems the only real result seems to be a drastically slowed down the internet. Pages that are allowed sometimes take a couple tries to load. Don’t think this is just because I am on a bad connection that I’m complaining.
If you want the information, is fairly easy to get at it in spite of the blocks. A simple proxy server can be found for free, or at a small price, and ‘freedom of information here you come’! They may maintain the largest firewall in the world, but a wall can only block so much. My inclination is that it blocks those people who they really shouldn’t be worried about — the casual surfer — but the true deviants are smart enough to get through. These are the ones that they should worry about. The fact of the matter is – if I can get on Facebook, and I’m no hacker, just about any normal person can.
Now, let’s see if I get some officers of the PLA knocking at my door. Maybe they’ll just block this page.